“In countless ways one of the best introductions to economics ever written”

I would also strongly recommend Steven Kates’ Free Market Economics. An Introduction for the General Reader which is in countless ways one of the best introductions to economics ever written; and this assessment includes amongst other things the author’s superb ability to put economics into perspective in terms of the history of economic thought.

I keep going back to this fantastic book. Lucidly written, it can be read with tremendous gain (to students of economics of any level, beginner to advanced scholar) in a few days, maybe even in just two days. At the same time, it is so substantial as to invite countless returns for further appreciation.

As a person strongly influenced by the Austrian school (including its post-Misesian anarchist wing), what gives me a special kick is the fact that the author, who ‘heretically’ recognises a substantial role for government and the state, offers an accurate and brilliant account of a free economy.

Of course, this places Kates much closer to (the great Austrians) Mises and Hayek than to the anarchist successor school, whose anarchist stance I do not share at all, while recognising the school’s considerable intellectual achievments.

I hope Georg Thomas won’t mind my retrieving his kind and generous comment from the thread that followed my putting up a reading list in the history of economics the other day. And I hope you won’t mind if I say that this is how I think about the book myself.

Moreover, the book is, in my view, unique. It explains everything found in an introductory text on economics but in no chapter is its explanation the same. Everything is saturated in the role of the entrepreneur and builds from the crucial importance of uncertainty.

It never assumes there is no government, but instead assumes that there is and that this government will make laws and regulations that are sometimes a net benefit but are also usually the very reason economies underperform and all too frequently fall into recession.

It explains value added across an entire chapter. The fact of the matter is that without understanding value added properly it is impossible to understand good policy from bad. And so far as I know, this book is unique in explaining this crucial part of economic reasoning at the introductory level.

In teaching supply and demand it assumes no one can ever know where either of those curves actually is, a very different way of thinking about markets. The traditional form of marginal cost pricing is shown to be an inane framework that provides no insight into how either prices are set or volumes determined. Instead it explains the margin as the dividing point between the present and the future which the farther into one looks, the less that one can know anything relevant about what is going to take place.

It disdains Keynesian economics even while explaining modern macro, showing why it is an insulting form of nonsense, and I might add, is the only book to my knowledge anywhere to do so. If you know of another written within the last forty years, you must let me know.

Instead, it explains prosperity and recessions using the classical theory of the cycle which was based on a proper understanding of Say’s Law. It is definitely, and I do mean definitely, the only place in the world you can find out about Say’s Law and how Keynes mangled its interpretation leaving the world’s economies in the mess they are in with no theoretical guidance system with which to find our way out.

And as the title makes clear, the point of the book is to explain why there is no other means to manage an economy than through the free market which is not the same as laissez faire.

How to Get the Book

The book is available in paper from the Edward Elgar catalogue for £23.96. And if you would like to read it in an electronic format, this is where you should go which is taken from the Elgar website:

www.ebooks.com
www.books.google.com/ebooks
www.google.co.uk/ebooks

View our ebooks that are with Dawsonera
View our ebooks that are with EBL
View our ebooks that are with Ebooks.com
View our ebooks that are with MyiLibrary
View our ebooks that are with EBSCOhost
View our ebooks that are with Ebrary
View our ebooks that are with Google

Here is the link to the google ebooks in the UK where the price is a mere $A29.00.

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21 Responses to “In countless ways one of the best introductions to economics ever written”

  1. Tim

    Still not available for the Kindle, Steve. And given the Kindle has around 50% of the market share, it’s a limitation on potential sales. I won’t be buying it till it’s in a format I can use…

  2. e-girl

    I’ll second Tim here. Sure, I _could_ buy it, use Calibre to crack to remove the DRM and convert it to Kindle format, then put it on my Kindle, but meh.

  3. Johnno

    Catallaxy is NOT the forum for you to promote your own boring book Mr Kates.

  4. oil shrill

    Catallaxy is NOT the forum for you to promote your own boring book Mr Kates.

    why not?

    how do you know it is boring?

    have you read it, or are you just a troll?

  5. FDB

    “And I hope you won’t mind if I say that this is how I think about the book myself”

    A vain hope from a vain man.

    How many kinds of idiotic narcissist can one person be?

    Only time will tell.

  6. Jasbo

    With Tim and e-girl on this. There’s plenty of software out there to Kindle-ize your text. Use it. You’ll get a massive readership. Give up on making money out of it.

    Nice though that it now seems more reasonably priced.

  7. Johnno

    Oil Shrill – I’m not a troll. I’m just sick of Steve Kates being so narcissistic. I haven’t read his latest work, but I have read earlier pieces which are ok. This is a blog for promoting ideas, not selling books. Say was a great person, but he is by no means the dominant thinker in economics. People such as Smith, Ricardo, Marshall, Fischer, Hayek and Friedman dominate Says. Kates should get a life and realize there is more than Say.

    In fact, Jean-Baptiste Colbert is a more famous French economist than Jean-Baptiste Say.

  8. Oh come on

    I respect your work on The Cat, Steve, but you’re writing this about your own book?

    Wow. Awkward.

  9. Abu Chowdah

    The thing is, Steve is right. The book stands alone in its approach.

  10. Abu Chowdah

    A vain hope from a vain man.

    History will be the judge. And they won’t be interested in the throwaway blog comments of ABu C and FDB.

  11. GeorgThomas

    Steven Kates writes:

    “I hope Georg Thomas won’t mind my retrieving his kind and generous comment from the thread that followed my putting up a reading list in the history of economics the other day. And I hope you won’t mind if I say that this is how I think about the book myself.”

    I don’t mind at all, quite to the contrary – I wish the book the widest possible dissemination.

    I never tire to advertise its tremendous qualities.

    And, from my perspective, the vantage point of a grateful reader, the author has the duty to promote his book.

    I wish, Steven Kates’ “Free Market Economics” had been available when I was introduced to economics in the mid-1980s.

    It would have spared me decades of search and confusion. Having the potential to provide such “savings” to other economists, budding and advanced, “Free Market Economics” certainly deserves to be called to the attention of as many interested persons as possible.

    I do not know of any other introduction to economics that brings to the fore, lucidly and incisively, the essence of such a number of vital issues in economic theory – from information, supply and demand, equilibrium to business cycle, affording the reader a clear sense of direction and progress as the presentation unfolds.

    It is so much easier to acquire orientation and the ability to discern the important and fruitful in economics once you have read Steven Kates’ surprisingly short book, not least compared to many other introductory textbooks.

    Those who are inclinded to call into question the arguments Kates offers will also find it rewarding to be facing a clear and honest account.

    In fact, what strikes me as perhaps the most outstanding feature of the book is – the honesty of approach.

  12. Oh come on

    I’m sure it’s a great book.

  13. Matt

    In other words, it’s a bloody great book even if you do say so yourself!!

    And hey, it might be. But it’s probably best to get someone else to review it here.

  14. elhombre

    Thanks for that, I just bought it. Had to download yet another reader for the iPad but so be it.

  15. Godfrey

    +1 for putting this on Kindle, Steve. Just went to buy it from Amazon and couldn’t. As e-girl said, meh.

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